Jon’s phone starts ringing at a quarter to four in the morning. He’s not surprised, but he was sleeping, so it takes him a few minutes to fumble around in the near-darkness of his bedroom until he gets a hold of the phone. He answers without checking who it is first. After all, only a handful of people would call him this late at night.
“Jon!” Ryan’s voice is hushed and urgent.
“Ryan…” Jon grumbles, his voice thick with sleep. He’s mere seconds from drifting off again.
“Remember…remember when I told you that there were no such things as hipster vampires?” Ryan still sounds panicky. Jon perks up a bit, alarmed.
“Are you – what’s going on?” Jon is sitting up in his bed now. Ryan is completely incapable of handling himself in a vampire attack, no matter how many times Jon has gone through the variety of ways to kill them and the household objects to use to do so.
Jon hears a muffled thumping noise on Ryan’s end of the line. He bites his lip and silently prays that he doesn’t hear the end of his boyfriend’s life.
“It’s Alex,” Ryan whispers frantically. “He’s, he’s…he’s a vampire, dude.”
“That’s – are you sure he’s not just fucking around with you?” Jon asks. He’s hung out with Alex and never noticed any sign of vampirism up until this point.
“He just came home,” Ryan says louder, more alarmed. “He’s back from New York. He must’ve gotten fucking bit while he was there, because he’s a vampire, Jon. He’s spouting all this shit about how he’s aiming to be the next overlord of L.A.”
“Fuck, Ryan. I knew you should’ve come home with me. I can’t… I can’t get to L.A. for days. Is he threatening you? Did you call Spencer and Brendon?”
“You told me to call you first in a vampire emergency and, if you didn’t pick up, then call Spencer.”
“But Spencer is in L.A., Ryan. Don’t you think he’d be a little more helpful?”
“I – ” Ryan is cut off by the pounding sound again.
“Open the door, Ryan.” Jon can hear Alex sing-song across the line.
“Ryan… where are you?”
“In the goddamn bathroom,” Ryan whispers harshly. “I locked myself in here when Alex was distracted.”
Jon sighs. He doesn’t even bring up how it would’ve been a better idea to actually leave the house instead of locking himself up inside of it with a vampire Greenwald.
Jon is already out of bed, tugging on his clothes from earlier that day. “Listen to me, Ryan. Do exactly as I say. Call Spencer and then wait for him and Brendon to show up and take care of Alex. You go with them, okay? They’ll keep you safe until I get there.”
“You’re – you’re coming to L.A?”
“Of course I am, you idiot.” Jon tucks his cell between his shoulder and his ear as he does up his pants and tugs a shirt on. Before any more words can be passed between them, Jon hears the sharp cracking of wood and the startled intake of Ryan’s breath. “Ryan?” Jon tries urgently. There’s no response. When he does hear Ryan, he sounds miles and miles away, like he dropped his phone.
Jon can hear Ryan talking to someone, most likely Alex.
“Ryan? Ryan?” Jon shouts across the line. His heart is in his throat. He’s barely breathing, unable to relax until he knows Ryan is okay. He’ll never forgive himself if something happens to Ryan.
“Jon Walker,” a voice on the line says. It’s not Ryan; it’s definitely Alex. “Ryan is indisposed at the moment, but here’s what’s going to happen. I’m taking Ryan’s house as my stronghold. I’m not going to kill Ryan, but I can’t promise I won’t get the itch to turn him,” Alex laughs smugly. Jon's hand balls into a fist.
“What do you want?” Jon asks.
“Nothing, really. I’m just letting you know that I’m not going to kill Ross and, if you want him back, then you should be prepared for a fight. Oh, and just so you know, I intend on turning L.A. into my own little vampire paradise.”
Jon growls and Alex laughs. “I look forward to seeing you, Walker. This ought to be fun.”
The line goes dead before Jon can speak another word. He’s pissed. As a human, Alex was no threat whatsoever. He was laughable, even. As a newly-formed vampire with an already-loose set of morals, though, Jon is concerned for the city. It’s going to take him quite some time to get to L.A.; planes are impossible, because Jon is known for his job and, in this day and age, hunters are looked down upon almost as much as the vampires they destroy.
He’ll have to drive the span of states and hope that Alex doesn’t grow bored and turn Ryan before Jon can make it to save him from Alex’s clutches.
The first person Jon calls isn’t Brendon or Spencer. It’s Tom, the only other person Jon can truly trust besides Ryan and his family. Jon isn’t sure Tom will even answer his phone, because it’s late and Tom’s a heavy sleeper. He eventually does answer with a “What the fuck, Jon?”
Jon doesn’t even bother to apologize, instead launching straight into the problem at hand. “Tom, fucking Greenwald went all dark-side on us and took Ryan hostage.”
“We’ve got to get to L.A. and stop him from hurting Ryan or, God forbid, taking over the whole damn city,” Jon says.
“Greenwald? Are you shitting me?” Tom asks. He sounds more aware than he had moments before and Jon takes that as a good sign.
“No, man. I don’t know how it happened. We just have to do something, okay? Can you meet me here with your gear?”
Tom sighs, but Jon knows it’s only for show. Tom loves this kind of thing, fighting the vamps, and he’s good at it. Jon really isn’t surprised by that.
“Alright, I’ll be there in ten.”
Tom hangs up. Jon sits on the edge of his bed before he dials Brendon’s number. He has a feeling this call won’t go as well as the last, mostly because of Spencer and less because of Brendon. The line rings for so long that Jon nearly hangs up, but, at the last minute, he hears the muffled voice of Brendon on the phone.
“Bren – ” Jon starts.
“Jon? What? Dude, it’s, like, four in the morning,” Brendon mumbles.
“Isn’t it like two in California?”
“Yeah,” Brendon starts, “but Spence and I aren’t in California.” He yawns lazily. Jon can picture him right now: lying in bed, hair a mess, eyes half-lidded.
“Brendon? Who the fuck is it? We’re sleeping!” Jon hears Spencer snap on the other end of the line.
“It’s… nothing, Spence, just go to sleep,” Brendon says, his voice sappy. Jon rolls his eyes, but it probably is for the best that Spencer doesn’t know Jon is calling quite yet.
“I want to, but not when you’re on the damn phone.”
“Listen, Brendon, where the fuck are you two? I really needed you guys to be in California.”
“Funny story, we’re actually just outside of Chicago,” Brendon laughs a little. Jon just cannot catch a fucking break here.
“What? Fuck, this is…I can’t believe this shit.”
“Jon, dude, what the hell is going on? You sound so serious.”
“Wait, that’s Jon calling? Jesus, hang up, Brendon,” Spencer says at the same time that Jon nearly shouts, “Oh, nothing, just Ryan being kidnapped by a hipster-turned-vampire.”
“Ryan was…kidnapped?” Brendon asks.
“Well, technically, he’s being held captive in his own house, but it is by a vampire. He needs help and I wanted you two to try and get him or at least build suitable weaponry until I could make my way to L.A.,” Jon sighs.
“Spencer, Ryan is being held hostage in California,” Jon hears Brendon tell Spencer. Jon can’t make out what Spencer says back, but it doesn’t sound as hostile as usual.
“We’ll help, Jon. Whatever you need,” Brendon says when he returns to the line a few moments later. Jon smiles, glad for a small-yet-competent team. Brendon and Spencer are hunters, too, and are almost on par with Jon and Tom.
“Tom is supposed to meet me at my place in ten. Maybe you two could, too? Do you have any weapons on you?”
“Of course, Spencer doesn’t let us go anywhere without some kind of protection.” Jon can hear the smile in Brendon’s voice and it makes him miss Ryan that much more. “Listen, we’ll get ready and be there within the hour,” Brendon says a few moments later. “See you soon, Jon – and don’t panic too much, okay? We’ll get Ryan out of there safe and sound.” Jon is thankful for Brendon’s optimism. Jon has the tendency to spiral in the negative, convinced the whole world is a dark shell of the world he had grown up in. Brendon might be one of the only people that can still give Jon a sense of hope for the future.
Jon hangs up with Brendon and finishes dressing, toeing on his shoes near the door and tugging open his closet, pulling the dangling string to light up the small space. Jon stows his weapons in the closet in his room. It’s not the only place; he has smaller tools hidden away in several places in the house, a stake under his pillow, a gun under the bed, silver and tiny vials of holy water on hand in the living room and kitchen.
Jon lifts a belt of stakes from a hook in the closet and loops it around his chest. The handgun is tucked into the waistband of his jeans, cold metal against the skin of his back. Jon is beginning to close up the closet when he hears a loud, screeching noise echoing from outside.
Jon clicks off the light in his closet and drops down to a crouching position. He lives on a huge splay of land in a house pushed back into the dark quiet of a clearing surrounded by woods and a pond that freezes over come winter. People don’t usually come to his home unless they have to, unless he knows them. Jon is tense and creeps quietly, bowed down low to the ground, towards his front door. The other doors in the house are locked and barred with silver chains.
The lights in the house are off from when Jon had gone to bed, but Jon’s lived here edging on six years now, so he knows the layout of his home like the back of his hand. He has to know that much when your home becomes just another place to protect, to learn and gain the upper hand.
Jon makes it to the front door, stake tight in his hand, held at the ready to strike, and stands. He gets a hand on the knob and pulls the door open, quick and smooth. The porch light is on and Jon steps out, scanning the front yard for any sign of vampires.
His eyes catch on two figures, one lying in the grass of his yard near where Marley’s doghouse used to be, while the other stands over the fallen one. Jon tenses and tries to make out whether the person still on their feet is friend or foe. Jon doesn’t have to figure it out, because the person turns and he can make out Tom bathed in the golden light radiating from the porch.
“Tom! What happened?” Jon calls. Tom steps away from the fallen figure – a vampire, most likely. He’s already suspected that Alex would send his connections after Jon. He just didn’t think they’d arrive so soon.
Tom makes it to the porch and grunts. “I was heading up here and that vamp ambushed me.” Tom jerks his thumb back at the corpse. “Luckily, he was a weak one. Sort of surprised to even see him here.”
Jon moves aside and lets Tom come in, Jon following once he gives the yard one more look-over. Tom turns the light on in the kitchen and Jon sees the blood covering the thin, white tank top Tom’s wearing.
“Alex is fucking with me, no doubt. He’s sending his contacts after us. I should call Brendon and Spencer and warn them,” Jon adds after a moment. Tom makes a face.
“Those two are coming over?”
“Let’s be honest, Tom. We need all the help we can get.”
“But those two? Wasn’t Brendon usually the bait when you two worked together? And Spencer…I can’t really see him risking his life for you, Jonny boy.”
Jon rolls his eyes. “Brendon being the bait was accidental and Spencer…well, he’s probably over that by now.”
Tom shrugs and peels off his bloodstained shirt, moving over to Jon’s sink to soak it. Jon spots a pair of headlights shining brightly onto his front yard. Tom looks up, tense despite the fact that it’s most likely Brendon and Spencer arriving and not an enemy.
Jon hears the quiet rumble of familiar voices and then there’s a swift knock. “Come in,” Jon calls. The door opens, Brendon peeking his dark head inside before smiling at Jon and entering fully, Spencer following along behind him.
“You know there’s a dead vampire in your driveway?” Brendon says. Jon looks back at Tom, who laughs.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention I hit one. We should probably hit up a car wash before we go traveling,” Tom says. Brendon leans against the counter while Spencer lingers stiffly by the door.
“You were ambushed?” Brendon asks, his dark eyes wide.
“I doubt it’ll be the last time,” Jon says. “This is all one big game to Alex.”
“Why was Ryan in L.A., anyway? He’d be safer with you. I’d never leave Brendon so far away from me where I couldn’t help him,” Spencer mutters. Jon rolls his eyes.
“Ryan is a lot more stubborn than Brendon.”
Brendon glances between Spencer and Jon, his lip between his teeth. Tom shakes his head, like he knew this was going to happen. It’s easy to see that Tom doesn’t entrust his safety to Spencer.
“So, uh…” Brendon begins, desperate to change the topic. “Tell us the plan, Jon.”
“The plan is simple. We drive from here to L.A., kick vampire ass, and bring Ryan back here,” Jon says. He crosses his arms tightly against his chest and looks to Tom. Tom – who is still trying to wash the blood out of his shirt in vain – looks up when he feels Jon's eyes on him. He gives Jon a blood-tinged thumbs-up.
“That’s a long way to drive,” Spencer says. He’s moved from the doorway and is now standing next to Brendon, their arms brushing lightly. Brendon ducks his head and smiles softly despite the seriousness of the situation. Jon frowns. He’s suddenly not sure if he’ll be able to handle a whole trip’s worth of their affections shoved in his face. It seems that he’s only just now realizing how different working with Brendon will be now. “And we can’t fly. What’s stopping Alex from taking Ryan while we’re getting gas or following maps?”
“Your optimism is astounding, Spence,” Tom says. He wrings out his shirt with his blood-stained hands and goes through Jon's kitchen to the little backdoor that leads to the tiny laundry room. Jon doesn’t say anything while Tom is gone. He just stands there, feeling utterly helpless and itching to call Ryan’s phone. Maybe Greenwald locked him up and forgot to take his cell.
“Join in or not. I don’t really care. I’m going to L.A. with or without a crew,” Jon snaps. The house is quiet save for the rumble of the dryer starting up. Spencer is glaring at the floor and Jon is glaring at Spencer and Brendon is biting on his lip enough to rip the skin. Tom emerges from the laundry room and sighs.
“I fucking knew this would happen. A team is no team if we can’t trust each other. Take my guys – I would trust any of them with my life. I know Sean or Ryan or Max would risk their lives to save my ass. It needs to be the same here or we’ve got nothing. I don’t know about you all, but I sort of want to live to see tomorrow.”
“I told you that this was a bad idea, Brendon,” Spencer mumbles. Brendon rests a hand on Spencer’s shoulder and squeezes, leans in and whispers something soft and comforting in Spencer’s ear. Jon can see Spencer visibly relax, his body loose under Brendon’s touch.
“You want to help. I know you do,” Jon catches Brendon saying. “You’re not the type who turns their back. Plus, it’s Ryan,” he stresses. Spencer scratches at his neck and has the grace to look sheepish.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry, Jon. I know that this is important to you. If it were Brendon, I’d be the same way.”
Jon nods and forces a small smile, one that Spencer returns. Tom takes a seat at the stool at the island in Jon's kitchen. “So how are we doing this? Two cars? One car? Follow-the-leader-style?” He looks around at them, tapping his fingers against the tiled counter, looking both amused and excited.
“Two cars,” both Jon and Spencer say at nearly the same time. It’s just easier that way. Jon really can’t handle both worrying about Ryan’s safety and walking on eggshells with Spencer and Brendon. Tom claps a hand against the table.
“So, Jon and I then?” He asks. No one bothers to answer because really, it couldn’t pan out any other way. Tom smirks. “Just a hunch.”
They can’t leave until Tom’s shirt dries. Tom is seriously so lucky that he’s a vampire hunting master and also Jon's best friend, because he hates waiting, especially for such a stupid reason. In the meantime, they have a map of the states spread out on Jon's dining room table. He can’t even remember the last time that he actually ate at the table and not in his bedroom or the living room, pouring over the news or assignments.
Tom and Brendon have markers and they’re plotting out which roads to take, Jon and Spencer interjecting when there’s a quicker route or a highway that they should utilize instead. The highways would be the fastest considering the fact that most vampires use the back roads or residential areas as their own personal version of fast food, chasing down cars and taking the occupants. Jon's seen that happen one too many times, his stomach still churning at the memory.
“Do we know who turned Greenwald?” Brendon asks. The cap to his marker is caught between his teeth as he looks up at Jon.
Jon shakes his head. “No, I’m not all that familiar with California breeds. Could’ve been anyone.”
“We could call Pete,” Spencer suggests. He’s staring at the map, at the red circled area of L.A. “He would know.”
“We’ll worry about that once we’re closer to the target,” Tom says. He caps his marker and makes to fold the map back up. The buzz of the dryer is loud in the stillness of Jon's home. Tom goes to put on his shirt and Jon turns to the kitchen counter to pick up his belt of stakes, draping it around his chest.
“You two have weapons in the car?” Jon asks. It’s more of an attempt at small talk than anything else. He knows that Spencer makes sure they’re well-protected at all times. Brendon is the one who answers for the two of them.
“Yep, guns at the ready.”
“Good. I’m going to grab a few more things from the closet,” Jon says. He points towards his room, but it’s a wasted effort. Brendon’s been here more than enough times to suddenly forget the layout of Jon's home. Jon goes to his closet and grabs up the duffle bag shoved into the back. He loads up the bag with extra bullets, stakes, knives, whatever he has to spare. He doesn’t know how long this trip will wind up taking or how hard he’ll have to fight Alex for Ryan.
When he comes back to the kitchen, Tom’s returned with his freshly-laundered tank top on, along with the trademark plaid shirt that Tom’s seemingly always wearing.
“We hitting the road now, Jonny?” Tom asks. Jon nods and shoulders his bag. His chest feels tight with nerves. Sure, he’s confident in their abilities, but no matter how skilled you are, every mission has the potential to be your last. Jon's going into this knowing he could die, but it’s worth it. Ryan is worth it. Jon doesn’t have much to live for these days, there isn’t a lot he looks forward to waking up another day to see, but Ryan is definitely one of the few things that fall into that category.
Brendon fishes the car keys from his jeans pocket and hands them over to Spencer. Tom leads the way out the door and tells Brendon and Spencer to go and turn on the headlights of their car. It’s still dark out, will be for at least the next two hours or so. The sky is dark, voided of the stars and the moon. Spencer and Brendon follow their orders and soon a bright white light is stretching up Jon's driveway and washing the house and Tom’s car in light. Jon finally emerges from his home, turning the lock on his door on the way out. It’s kind of pointless to lock the door considering that chances are low that a human will wander out this way – and if it’s a vampire, well, a simple lock isn’t going to stop them – but it’s a habit that Jon can’t seem to break.
The vampire carcass is still littering Jon's front yard and Tom goes to it, aided by the light, and removes the stake stuck deep the vampire’s chest cavity. The vampire’s body makes an unpleasant squelching noise as the stake pulls from skin and bone. Jon wrinkles his nose and Tom wipes the bloodied stake off in the damp, overgrown grass of Jon's front yard.
Both Spencer and Tom’s car are parked far down the dirt path of Jon's driveway. Tom had abandoned his car down the driveway after he hit the vampire and walked the rest of the way up Jon's driveway – or at least Jon figures that that’s the case. Spencer’s car is parked back a few feet from Tom’s, leaving a sizeable gap between their two vehicles.
“Are we going to move this vampire? I don’t really want guts getting all over my tires,” Tom says.
“You’re the one that hit it,” Jon points out.
“Yeah, but when I hit it, the damn thing flew up in the air, not under the tires.”
“Fine, we’ll move it,” Jon sighs. The vampire in question is no one that Jon recognizes from what he can see and he’s a little thankful for that. It’s a male, small and young; no wonder it died just from the impact of Tom’s car. Jon's not up for touching the vamp, so he and Tom roll the body with their feet until gravity takes over and pulls the dead weight down into the little dip of Jon's yard.
Jon loads up Tom’s car while Brendon and Spencer buckle themselves into Spencer’s, the engine humming. Jon decides to drive Tom’s car and Tom gives up control easily, sliding into the passenger seat with his handgun tucked into the holster around his leg.
Spencer is waiting in the street for Jon to pull out of the driveway. They’ll be following behind Jon and Tom’s car. The road leading from Jon's place is a lonely dirt road that breaks off into a residential area or a main road that leads into the downtown area; they take the downtown route, intent on driving straight out of Chicago. Jon figures if they make few stops and there are minor distractions, like vampires, then they can make it through Illinois and maybe even Missouri without having to stop for sleep.
An hour-and-a-half later, they’re driving through a forest-lined, deserted highway. The dark of the night is beginning to give way to the promise of sunrise. The sky is steadily lightening, stretches of blue. If people have to travel, most will just fly; if they have to drive, it’s done during the day and in large groups. The worst thing to be in this post-modern vampire world is all alone.
Tom’s saying something about giving Sean a call once daylight breaks. Typically, Sean and Tom work together at slaying jobs, along with Ryan J and Max. Jon is removing Tom from his team, but he doesn’t doubt that they’ll manage fine without Tom.
Jon should be more focused on driving, but the risks are low and the task is boring. He’s partially zoned out, listening to Tom tell the tale of the time Sean beheaded three vampires at once. Jon's heard this story no less than ten times already. It’s Jon's lack of focus on the road that makes him miss the dark flash of a figure following along the side of the road, keeping time with the cars.
“Motherfucker,” Tom grumbles, which finally draws Jon from his daze. He looks to Tom instead of the road, but Tom is glaring darkly at the road ahead of them, and Jon follows his gaze, finally catching sight of the vampire standing cockily in the middle of the abandoned highway.
“What the hell is that vamp doing out so close to morning?” Jon asks. He decreases his speed a bit and glances in the rearview mirror to make sure that Brendon and Spencer aren’t being followed.
“Daredevil … or stupid. It could be either one. Another of Greenwald’s?”
Jon shakes his head. “This one looks different than the rest.”
“Not a hipster, you mean.”
They’re rapidly closing in on the vampire and the beast has yet to make a move besides standing there, grinning like he’s got the upper hand.
“This one doesn’t look like he’s going to go down via car,” Jon says.
“We could always try,” Tom smirks.
Jon accelerates just a little. If he hit the vampire, it’d most likely cause bad damage to the car and that defeats the purpose and makes getting to Ryan that much harder. Tom lowers his hand down his leg. Jon knows that he’s going for his gun.
“Roll my window down just enough for me to squeeze through,” Tom orders. Jon isn’t so sure.
“It could rip your head right off.”
“Not if I shoot it first.”
“I’ll be fine, just pull a fast turn. I’ll shoot it and we’ll make a U-turn back around to the leader.”
Jon sighs, but his grip tightens on the steering wheel. It’s tricky. If he’s too slow, then Tom becomes a wide-open target; too fast, and Tom won’t be able to take the shot. He’s got to get this just right. Jon rolls down the window and Tom cocks his gun, crouches up in his seat, ready to lean out the window when necessary.
They’re so close to the vampire that Jon can see its smirking face, its long, dark hair. Tom slides out the window and takes aim just as Jon pulls a sharp left. The tires squeal and burn against the pavement and they’re sliding sideways, directly into the vampire’s path.
Jon holds his breath and Tom takes his shot, but the wooden bullet cuts through nothing but air – not because Jon timed it wrong or Tom missed his target, but because the vampire simply isn’t there. Jon swears and Tom slinks back into his seat.
“Where the fuck is it?” Jon shouts. His question is answered by the harsh sound of crunching metal. Jon pulls back on to the road, going the wrong way down the highway. From this new position, they can see that the vampire bypassed their car completely and instead sought out Brendon and Spencer.
“It tricked us!” Tom growls.
“It wanted Brendon and Spencer! Fuck!”
The vampire is crouching on the roof of Spencer’s car, completely blocking the windshield and Spencer’s view of the road. Jon pulls off the road. He has to, or else Spencer will smash right into them.
“What’s the plan, Jonny?” Tom asks, his voice is tight but filled with energy. Tom lives for fights like this.
“I’m going to pull back around behind them. Maybe you can get a shot off that way?”
“I’m sure that I could,” Tom says with a nod. Jon turns sharply, edging off the dirt-lined path and back onto the road. Tom slips back out the window as Jon hits the pedal, trying to play catch-up to where Spencer and Brendon are feet ahead.
Jon grabs up his cell phone and hits the “3” button, speed-dialing Brendon. Jon can’t tell what’s happening, but he can still make out the figure riding atop Spencer’s car. Brendon answers after a few long rings.
“This really isn’t a good time, Jon.” Brendon’s voice is tight, too, like Tom’s. He sounds scared, though.
“What the fuck is happening up there?” Jon asks, edging ever closer to Spencer’s car.
“The vampire is trying to make us crash, I think. I can’t…I can’t find my gun.”
“Brendon, if they don’t have a fucking plan, then hang up the phone!” Jon can hear Spencer shout. The car swerves a bit, like Spencer is trying to shake the vamp off of the hood.
“We do have a plan! I’m going to get Tom as close as I can and he’s gonna shoot the bastard.”
Jon's car is grille-to-bumper to Spencer’s car and he moves to the left slowly, trying to get up alongside Spencer’s car. It’s hard to do when Spencer is still swerving, causing Jon to follow the course and swerve out as well. Jon stays on the outer edge of the road and Tom steadies his hand. Just as Tom goes to shoot, the vampire jerks and shoves his fist through the glass of Spencer’s windshield.
Jon hears the glass shatter in real time and over the line of the phone.
“Shit, Spencer’s, he’s grabbing the wheel!” Brendon shouts. He sounds far away, like he’s dropped the cell phone. Hopefully, he’s searching for his gun.
“Tom, get in the car!” Jon yells the second before Spencer’s car jerks wildly to the left and scratches alongside Jon's. Tom had just barely managed to duck back into the car before his head was crushed between the vehicles.
Tom lines up the gun again, not sticking his body out the window like before. Spencer is fighting the vampire for control of the car, the metal hunker lurching and pitching out of control. The vampire is looking to make them crash and there isn’t much that Tom and Jon can do to stop it.
Tom takes a shot. Jon isn’t sure where he was aiming, but he hits the right shoulder of the arm that the vampire has buried in the windshield of the car. The vampire screeches in pain and seems to lose control of the steering wheel. Both of their cars by now are off-road and heading towards a thicket of trees that begin the smattering of forest.
Jon turns just in time to avoid driving into the thicket of trees, but Spencer and Brendon are still fighting to see through the vampire marring their windshield.
“Brendon! You two are going to crash into the trees. Get down or tell Spencer to turn or something!” Jon shouts into the phone.
“Spence, there are trees! We’re gonna – we’re gonna crash!” Jon hears Brendon scream across the line.
“I know what I’m doing, Brendon!”
Jon can hear Brendon’s breathing over the phone line, harsh and frightened. Spencer’s car doesn’t slow and Jon can hear the vampire shrieking and swearing. Jon hits the brakes sharply so that he can focus on whatever sort of plan that Spencer has pieced together.
Spencer’s car collides with a tree trunk, and over the crunch of metal and Brendon’s gasp, Jon can hear the gurgled cry of the vampire dying. He’s not sure what happened and he puts the car in gear to drive slowly towards Spencer’s car.
“Bren? You guys okay?” Jon asks softly. There’s breathing and that’s good.
“I am. Spence, are you? Spencer?” Brendon asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine, babe.” It’s a slip by Spencer, one that Jon's not supposed to hear. It’s not that he cares, it’s just surprising to hear something considered intimate when they were in such a high-risk situation moments ago.
“Is it dead, Brendon?” Jon asks.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Spence, the car?” Brendon asks.
“Tell them to come help me get this thing off the hood, then we’ll check the car.”
“Deal,” Jon tells Brendon before he hangs up.
Apparently, Spencer drove right into the thick trunk of a tree, but with a purpose. The branches of the tree in question hung low and sharp, thick enough to stab right into the vamp’s chest, a sort of makeshift stake.
“Fast thinking, Smith!” Tom praises as he and Jon approach the car. The hood is dented in and there are fine wisps of silvery smoke rising from under the banged-up grille. Jon and Tom each grab one of the vampire’s shoulders, tugging the body back and from the car, its arm loosening from the broken windshield and falling almost in slow motion off of the hood of the car and crashing to the ground, bouncing against the roots of the trees. “Let’s start her up and see how she runs,” Tom tells Spencer, tapping the wheel of Spencer’s car with the rubbery sole of his sneaker.
Spencer nods from inside the car. The windows are rolled up, but Spencer can hear them through the gaping hole in the windshield. He turns the key. The car groans and sputters and then the silvery smoke turns black. The car shudders once, twice, and then stalls. Tom rubs at his chin.
“This car is done for,” Tom says.
“Well, thanks for that observation,” Spencer grumbles from in the car.
Jon slaps his hand down on the roof. The sun is starting to rise in the corner of the sky, pink and purple overtaking the blue. Brendon pushes the backseat door open and slips out, the heavy duffle bag of weaponry slung over his shoulder. He looks rattled. Jon goes to him, slinging an arm around his shoulder and asking, “You alright, B?” before he even realizes that it’s not his job to comfort Brendon, not anymore.
Spencer gets out of the car as Brendon nods. “I trust Spencer. I knew that we’d be alright.” Brendon smiles shakily at Spencer, who is frowning at his wrecked car.
“We just have to leave it here, then.”
“Well, yeah. I could call Max and Ryan to come and try and tow the thing out of here, but I also wouldn’t put it past Max to try and sneak a few parts for weaponry experiments,” Tom says. Spencer balks.
“No one will touch it, most likely,” Jon tells him. “Any passerby would think that this was the result of a fatal attack and the car doesn’t even run. No one’s going to spend time fixing it up to take it, not with dead vamps hanging around.”
“Plus vampires don’t drive,” Brendon offers.
“So it’s the four of us, then?” Tom asks. Jon nods and slips away from Brendon, letting Spencer move in to take his place. Brendon touches at Spencer’s face, checking for scrapes and bruises. Spencer is a little banged-up, tiny glass particles clinging to his hair and small, fine scratches on his cheeks and hands.
“I get shotgun!” Tom declares.
“Like…the passenger side seat or an actual gun?” Brendon asks. “Because we have both.”
Tom levels Brendon with a look like he’s saying ‘no wonder you were always the bait.’ “The seat – and you should give that shotgun to Spencer. Seems like he’d know how to use it faster.”
Brendon looks wounded for a brief moment, but he doesn’t argue as Tom heads back to Jon's car, the rest of the group following along.